32 South 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Crisp is a falafel-based transplant from New York. You can probably already tell this isn't going to end well.
Located just north of Chestnut on 18th, I figured it was a good time to get my Center City falafel fix, although I knew going into this that I should probably have just walked over to Mama's. Mostly because their website has the tagline "Syncs your tastes with your conscience." Yea, I will take my lunch without the side of smugness, thanks.
Crisp has the usual sandwich building station that you would find at most burrito/falafel/sandwich places. They do have some interesting combinations, however.
After spying the sad buns for the "falafel burgers" I decided to stick to the pita sandwiches. One "Athenian" and one "African" sandwich was where I landed. I must admit I was totally drawn in at first by the cardboard to-go containers.
They even come with ironic instructions.
So, I unzipped and began. Eating. The Athenian was up first. It comes with herbed yogurt, Greek salad, green onions, olives, and feta. The feta was tasty, as was the tangy Greek yogurt. The falafel itself was okay, it had a nice flavor and was full of herbs, but it was not crispy in the least. Kind of an issue when your whole schtick is reliant on the single word "crisp." I found it pretty decent to eat, but was less than impressed with the mild hot sauce they served it with.
I also thought that the other sauce-on-the-side was spicy peanut sauce, but it turned out to be nothing more than bland tahini.
The African was more of a let-down. I was expecting harissa-based flavors to be popping out of the pita – I wanted some sizzle with my steak, err vegetarian sandwich. I was expecting more North African peanut sauce, sweet potatoes, and habanero harissa sauce, and less corn salad, cherry tomatoes, and green onions. Well not really fewer green onions, but for the first four-fifths, this was like eating an exclusively tomato and corn salad sandwich. It turned out all of the other goodness was at the very bottom. Bummer. When I got to the very bottom, it was pretty good. But the poor execution was the problem.
My major problems, and the reason for the two cheesesteak rating are that two sandwiches and ice water was over $19 (water is free), the ingredients were not well portioned, the falafels were not "crisp," and (dare I say it again) there is a better place two blocks away, whose patronage is not supporting some chain from NYC. I have said it before, and I will say it again, I think the last thing we need is some spin-off of a popular franchise from up there (Shake Shack aside) because we have plenty of our own good things going here. And most of the time, they are better. Also, I guess their (fake) conscience doesn't really care about the environment, because they use an exorbitant amount of packaging on their product for eat-in customers. It's a nice gimmick, but I will pass next time.